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4a. Reading Comprehension: GMAT Verbal Overview
1. Reading Comprehension

This will test you ability to read a passage and answer questions associated with it. It is a test of memory, eye for detail, good reading speak and ability to comprehend. The length is usually 750 to 800 words. The GMAT norm is around 4 questions per passage.

The types of questions

Main idea: Here you will be asked to recognize the main idea or theme of the passage, a possible title or the author’s primary objective.

Supporting Ideas: In this type of question, you are asked about the idea expressed in one part of the passage, rather than about the passage as a whole.

Drawing Inferences: Questions of this sort ask about ideas that are not explicitly stated in a passage. It is assumed by the reader from something said by the writer. An inference is the likely or probable conclusion rather than the direct, logical one. It usually involves an opinion or viewpoint that the writer wants the reader to follow or assume.

Specific Details: In this type of question, you may be asked about specific details or facts the author has stated explicitly in the passage.

Applying information from the passage to other situations: These questions ask you to make an analogy between a situation described in the passage and a similar situation or event listed in the question.

The logical structure of the passage: These types of questions test your understanding of the overall meaning, logic or organization of a passage. Frequently, you are asked how several ideas in a passage are interrelated.

Determining the meaning of words from the context: Here the words may not be commonly known to you but you are required to guess their meaning from the context of the passage. This may also require you to read between the lines. You may not know the exact meaning but you can arrive at the answer if you read the options.

The conclusion: This can be of the type:

1. What is the logical conclusion that can be drawn...
2. What is the purpose of paragraph 2...


Passage 1
The search for ways to lengthen human life goes on. Mankind, at least the Americans, will not give up until they have arrived at something concrete and marketable to ensure a lifespan of perhaps a hundred or even more years for the average man. Research on drugs to boost longevity has been in progress for decades, but US scientists are also exploring other, and easier, avenues. The latest formula has emerged from the University of Kentucky, where it has been discovered that happiness, not fried chicken, is the key to a long life. After studying Alzheimer’s disease and aging for 15 years, a neurologist has concluded that "a positive emotional state at an early age may help ward off disease and even prolong life". Negative emotions can reduce one's longevity while "it feels good to be happy and hopeful". An interesting theory though not shatteringly original. It is a common human experience that when one is happy, one feels good and vice versa. If you are feeling good, it is highly unlikely that you are feeling terribly unhappy. Scientists sometimes present us with dilemmas not unlike the ones faced by Alice during her travels. No less interesting is the fact that the research is based on a study of 678 nuns of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, which culminated in a book — Nun Study, Aging With Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives. Like its contents, the elaborate nature of the title should also help readers intending to go into the depths of the subject. However, those interested would do well to remember that happiness is neither easy to achieve nor easy to maintain, and often loses its color once achieved. The rebel Russian poet, Yeygeny Yevtushenko, had said, "The hell with it. Who never knew/ the price of happiness will not be happy”. Alexander Pope called it "our being's end" while another author made fun of it by describing happiness as "a warm puppy". It is also questionable whether nuns are ideal as case studies for this kind of research, for they have God on their side, unlike most of us, and have an easier access to happiness. The Kentucky scientist's prescription contains its own antidote because a conscious and determined search for happiness is likely to be counter-productive. It is wiser not to stick to any formula and to take life as it comes. That will bring both happiness and, God willing, also a long life.

1. What is the general theme or the topic of discussion in the passage?

2. What is the tone of the author? Which lines give away the answer?

3. What is the style of the passage?

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